2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: A Closed Door Race

The Yas Marina Circuit, in Abu Dhabi played host to the seasons final F1 race, the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on December 13, 2020.


By Ben Bush
Updated on March 14, 2024

Reviewed and checked by Lee Parker

2020 Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix

As in previous years, the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi hosted the season’s final F1 race, the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on December 13, 2020.

Marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marked the seventeenth and final race of the year. Following the cancellation and postponement of multiple Grand Prix after the disrupted opener in Australia, the FIA had to create a revised schedule for the 2020 season. Consequently, the Bahrain Grand Prix was rescheduled to the original date of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, resulting in a two-week delay for the final event. Amidst an increase in COVID-19 infections, the decision was made to conduct the race behind closed doors without spectators.

Shortly before the race, it was announced that Lewis Hamilton would drive, having tested negative for the coronavirus. A positive result had led him to miss the previous round in Sakhir, during which George Russell, driving for Williams at the time, stepped in to fill his spot.

Max Verstappen driving for Red Bull Racing emerged as the winner, dominating the race by leading every lap from pole position. He was followed by Mercedes teammates Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, who finished second and third respectively.

2020 Championship battles

Hamilton and Mercedes had already secured first in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships, but Verstappen’s victory ensured that Red Bull Racing won their first race at Yas Marina in seven years and secured the team second in the championship.

McLaren achieved third place in the 2020 Constructors’ Championship, their best performance since 2012. This also broke a trend, as it was the first time since 2015 that a team outside of Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull to clinch a top-three finish in the Constructors’ Championship.

What happened in the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?

Ahead of the start, Charles Leclerc had received a three-place grid penalty due to his involvement in a collision with Sergio Pérez at the previous Sakhir Grand Prix. Additionally, both Pérez and Kevin Magnussen were required to begin the race from the back of the grid, as they had exceeded their allotted quotas of power unit components.

From lights out, Verstappen, starting in pole position, dominated the race, leading every lap. By the chequered flag, he was followed by Bottas over 15 seconds behind and Hamilton 18 seconds, who maintained their starting grid positions and completed the podium spots.

Alex Albon successfully overtook Lando Norris to secure 4th place, leaving Norris in 5th, just ahead of his McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz in 6th.

McLaren’s third-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship was aided by Racing Point‘s Sergio Pérez’s retirement on lap 9 due to a technical issue.

Renault‘s Daniel Ricciardo, who clocked the fastest lap, came home in 7th, followed by Pierre Gasly in 8th. Esteban Ocon made a last-lap move to take 9th from Lance Stroll, and the highest-placed Ferrari-powered car was Kimi Räikkönen‘s Alfa Romeo in 12th, leading the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel. Pietro Fittipaldi, standing in for the injured Romain Grosjean, finished last in 19th, two laps behind Verstappen.

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix post-race debrief

The race marked Daniil Kvyat‘s final appearance in Formula One, as he was set to be replaced by Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri in 2021 following the non-renewal of his contract. Kvyat subsequently moved to the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

Hamilton faced criticism post-race after stating he hadn’t felt “100%” since contracting COVID-19, despite expressing gratitude for being alive.

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Podium
2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Podium with Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton

Verstappen, content with his win, remained cautious about Red Bull’s prospects as title contenders in 2021. Meanwhile, George Russell shared that readjusting to the Williams car for this event was more challenging than adapting to the Mercedes during the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.

A significant change marked the postseason for two teams: it was the last event for the Silverstone-based team under the Racing Point name and for the Enstone-based team as Renault. For the 2021 season, these teams would be known as Aston Martin and Alpine, respectively.

The weekend was also notable as it was the 100th Grand Prix for Haas and the 400th for the team formally known as Renault.

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Results

1Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing-Honda25
2Valtteri BottasMercedes18
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes15
4Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing-Honda12
5Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault10
6Carlos SainzMcLaren-Renault8
7Daniel RicciardoRenault71
8Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda4
9Esteban OconRenault2
10Lance StrollRacing Point-BWT Mercedes1
11Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda
12Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari
13Charles LeclercFerrari
14Sebastian VettelFerrari
15George RussellWilliams-Mercedes
16Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari
17Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes
18Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari
19Pietro FittipaldiHaas Ferrari
RetSergio PérezRacing Point-BWT Mercedes

2020 Post-Race F1 Championship Standings

2020 Post-Race F1 Drivers’ Championship Standings

2020 Post-Race F1 Constructors’ Championship Standings

Seen in:

About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

Latest Reads